Want to program a radio station? What music will you play? You have some experience with your personal playlist when you find some songs are tired and others don't get played enough.
The secret to programming radio is similar.
I have been involved with several different radio stations in all sorts of formats here in Southern Utah. Each station takes time to think through and figure out a plan for programming a music station. It's a mix of science and art, as well as understanding how others feel emotion.
The science part is doing the work to find the songs that resonate with the most people. This is done by surveying enough people and asking them to rate the songs one to ten.
It also involves figuring out exactly what age of the population you are trying to reach. You must then analyze what songs can be played more and those that should be played less. All this is very analytical.
The part that is art is understanding the common feel of each song and how it relates to the others. Will the sound of one song clash in the group? Played together, will they blend in a way that makes the combination into something greater as a whole?
The other important factor is understanding the power of nostalgia.
Nostalgia includes a mix of memories and emotion that combines to create feelings of sadness for times past and overwhelming positivity for those memories. Nostalgia can be very helpful in times of stress as it reminds us of the good times and gives us hope for more in the future.
Music is a strong trigger for feelings of nostalgia. It takes our minds to the moments when the song was important to us and we are swept away with memories both sweet and sad. The most impactful music that brings up the most nostalgia is when we were in the 7th grade to seniors in high school.
The years we were trying to understand ourselves and figure out who we would be.
Music is a big part of defining ourselves at this time. Were you a rapper, or a rocker? Did you love urban or pop music? To this day you probably still see yourself in your music.
If I am programming a station for a certain age group of people, I take the music they listened to from the ages of 12 to 18 and I make those songs my base. Then I sprinkle in music that fits from later eras and...BAM, I got my listeners. It works every time.
Programming a music station can be a lot of fun. It’s easy to just give in to the music you personally like and rationalize why it is right for the station. Not everyone can do it, but its pretty fun when you really connect the radio station to your listeners.